The Open 2017: Jordan Spieth holds off Matt Kuchar to win his third major

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2017 Open Championship on the BBC
Venue: Royal Birkdale Dates: 20-23 July
Live: Listen to BBC Radio 5 live commentary and follow text updates – including in-play video clips – on BBC Sport website and mobile app. TV highlights on BBC Two. Click for full times.

Jordan Spieth won The Open at Royal Birkdale by three shots, after an enthralling battle with Matt Kuchar.

Spieth, 23, blew a three-shot advantage by the turn and lost the outright lead after dropping a shot on the 13th.

But he wrestled back the lead with a run of birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie to finish on 12 under and win his third major after the Masters and US Open.

Spieth is the second player after Jack Nicklaus to win three of the game’s four majors before the age of 24.

The world number three, who turns 24 on Thursday, is the youngest Open winner since 22-year-old Seve Ballesteros won the first of his three titles in 1979.

Spieth, who led wire-to-wire, carded a one-under-par 69, with Kuchar’s 69 leaving him on nine under, while 21-year-old Li Haotong of China played the second lowest round of the tournament with a 63 to climb to third place on six under.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy hit a three-under 67 to tie for fourth on five under, alongside Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello (68).

England’s world number 172 Matthew Southgate finished on four under for a tie for sixth place, along with South Africa’s Branden Grace, who carded the first 62 in a men’s major in the third round.

More to follow.

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Spieth will 'not get ahead' of himself despite three-shot Open lead

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2017 Open Championship on the BBC
Venue: Royal Birkdale Dates: 20-23 July
Live: Listen to BBC Radio 5 live commentary and follow text updates – including in-play video clips – on BBC Sport website and mobile app. TV highlights on BBC Two. Click for full times.
Third-round leaderboard
-11 Spieth (US); -8 Kuchar (US); -5 Connelly (Can), Koepka (US); -4 Grace (SA), Matsuyama (Jpn); -3 Johnson (US), Stenson (Swe), Kim (US), Cabrera-Bello (Spa); -2 Fisher (Eng), McIlroy (NI), Ramsay (Sco), Poulter (Eng)
Selected others:-1 Fowler (US), Bland (Eng); E Day (Aus), Casey (Eng), Johnston (Eng), Fitzpatrick (Eng), Garcia (Spa); +1 Fleetwood (Eng);+3 Plant (a) (Eng) Full leaderboard

Jordan Spieth says he will “not get ahead” of himself despite holding a three-shot lead going into the final round of The Open at Royal Birkdale.

The two-time major winner says he will draw on his experience at the 2016 Masters, when he squandered a five-shot lead with nine holes remaining.

Spieth’s five-under par 65 on Saturday put him on 11 under, three ahead of American compatriot Matt Kuchar.

“I’ve had the high and the humbling,” said world number three Spieth, 23.

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Victory on Sunday would make Spieth only the second player after Jack Nicklaus, who won a record 18 majors, to have won three of the game’s four biggest prizes before the age of 24.

“That would be incredible,” he added. “But I’ve had a five-shot lead in a major and squandered it before. I will keep my head down and not get ahead of myself.”

Spieth is the only player to finish every round under par this week and could become the youngest Open winner since a 22-year-old Seve Ballesteros in 1979.

He added: “Everything I’ve gone through, both good and bad, is advantageous for me. If I win tomorrow, I’ll still be learning and it all goes into my process.

“Tomorrow will be emotionally draining but I need to stay neutral in my head.”

Analysis

Iain Carter, BBC Sport golf correspondent at Royal Birkdale

The one thing that needs to be remembered is Spieth had a five-shot lead going into the back nine of the Masters last year.

It was impossible to see that collapse then as it is to see now. We are seeing a remarkable career developing.

McIlroy’s missed opportunity

Rory McIlroy

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy had been three under through five holes, but dropped shots on the seventh and eighth, and a double bogey on the 10th saw him card a disappointing 69.

“Usually you come off Royal Birkdale shooting under par and you would be pretty pleased,” said McIlroy, who is tied for 11th on two under.

“But it was so benign out there today and you needed to shoot at least four of five under par to feel like you were making ground out there – and I didn’t.”

The world number four added: “It’s hard to think ‘big picture’ now, I’m just off the golf course and I’m a little disappointed.

“I definitely feel like today was an opportunity lost to get right in the mix going into tomorrow.”

‘No excuses’ for fuming Poulter

Ian Poulter

World number 78 Ian Poulter could not hide his frustration following his one-over-par 71, summing up his feelings with a number of expletives as he spent around a minute with reporters.

“I made one bogey yesterday in all those treacherous conditions we had and then I made five bogeys today,” said Poulter, 41.

“It’s not good enough, simple as that. There were too many stupid mistakes.”

The Englishman came through a qualifier at Woburn to win a place at The Open and sat three shots off the pace going into the third round.

But a run of three bogeys on holes 10, 11 and 12 followed a birdie on nine which he hoped would have got “some adrenaline going”.

He added: “It’s disappointing, extremely disappointing – easy conditions and the greens were soft. No excuses. From a three-putt at the first, which was poor… it’s a real shame.”

Kuchar ‘excited’ about Claret Jug chances

Matt Kuchar

Kuchar, 39, made his Open debut at Royal Birkdale in 1998 and is back bidding for his first top-five finish at The Open at the 12th attempt.

The American was two shots behind playing partner Spieth at the start of the third round, moving within one after a birdie at 14, before a double bogey on 16 helped Spieth move clear.

“I am excited to be in the position I’m in,” said Kuchar.

“Three shots off the lead, I’ve got a great chance with a good day to win the Claret Jug.

“There aren’t many other players in the field, even if they have a great final day, who can say that.”

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The Open 2017: Jordan Spieth leads by three shots heading into final round

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2017 Open Championship on the BBC
Venue: Royal Birkdale Dates: 20-23 July
Live: Listen to BBC Radio 5 live commentary and follow text updates – including in-play video clips – on BBC Sport website and mobile app. TV highlights on BBC Two. Click for full times.

Jordan Spieth will begin the final round of The Open with a three-shot lead over his American compatriot Matt Kuchar and six shots over the rest of the field as he once again stormed Royal Birkdale’s defences.

On a day when Branden Grace became the first man in history to card a 62 at a major championship, Spieth strengthened his overnight grip on the championship with a bogey-free 65 to move to 11 under par as his big-name rivals struggled to stay in touch.

Canadian debutant Austin Connelly, 20, sits in a tie for third with US Open champion Brooks Koepka at six under, while Grace and Japan’s world number two Hideki Matsuyama, who shot a fine 66, are two shots further back.

But it was a disappointing afternoon for home favourites Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, McIlroy’s chances effectively over after a messy 69 left him two under, nine shots off Spieth and tied for 11th with his Ryder Cup team-mate.

Texan Spieth, 23, blew a five-shot lead going into back nine at The Masters 15 months ago, but with this links course in far less punitive mood than the Augusta National he is odds-on to add the oldest major to his Masters and US Open titles from 2015.

Kuchar, 39, has never finished in the top five at an Open and has only one top-10 finish in 12 previous attempts, and he will rue the three putts on the 16th green that cost him critical momentum this time around.

Spieth wins duel with Kuchar

This was a relentless Spieth rather than spectacular, his birdie on the 18th green giving him a lead that so few will expect him to relinquish.

After a cautious opening, his 15-foot putt for birdie on the seventh re-established the two-shot lead he had held over playing partner Kuchar overnight.

But Kuchar closed in, birdieing the 14th and 15th, only for Spieth to drop a seven-foot putt for a birdie of his own on the latter hole to take back the lead 30 seconds later at 10 under.

When Kuchar three-putted the 16th his deficit was three, and while the elder man birdied 17 to stay in touch, Spieth’s nerveless 15-foot putt on the last stretched that lead back out.

Amazing Grace

Grace had earlier made history on a day of baking temperatures and minimal wind, the links stripped of its usual defences.

In an extraordinary few hours he made birdies on the first, fourth, fifth, eighth, ninth, 14th, 16th and 17th holes, which left him requiring just a oar on the par-four 18th to set the record.

His tee-shot found light rough and his second flew 45 feet beyond the pin, but a marvellous putt to within three feet set up the finish to rewrite the record books.

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McIlroy brilliant and horrible once again

McIlroy, champion down the coast at Hoylake three years ago, charged out of the blocks, easing in a five-foot birdie on the first, flighting and rolling in a 30-foot chip from short of the green on the fourth and driving the green on the 346-yard par-four fifth before leaving his eagle putt just shy.

The subsequent birdie left him four under and within touching distance of Spieth, only for the inconsistencies that have dogged his game over the past year resurfacing once again.

A hooked tee-shot cost him a bogey on the par-three seventh, and worse was to follow as he bogeyed the eighth and then dropped two more shots on the 10th, going from tee to bunker to bunker to rough.

He had chances to salvage shots down the stretch but little would drop for him, and his three-year wait for his next major goes on.

Poulter, looking to become the first man since Paul Lawrie 18 years ago to come through qualifying and win the claret jug, mixed three birdies with three bogeys in his first 11 holes.

He then missed a six-footer for par on the 12th and dropped another shot on the 13th, the energy going out of him as his hopes slipped away.

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Kid Connelly impresses as big names struggle to stay in touch

Connelly has never before played an Open but showed a precocious talent as he raced round the links in 66, picking up birdies on his last two holes to take fourth on the leaderboard as his own and secure his place in the penultimate pairing come Sunday afternoon.

Koepka dropped a shot on the first but then birdied three, four and five before a birdie and bogey on the back nine left him five under.

World number one Dustin Johnson looked as if he might match Grace when he stood on the 16th tee six under par, and while three successive pars ended that dream, his 64 still left him three under and in a tie for seventh.

Last year’s champion Stenson fired an equally impressive 65 to sit alongside Johnson.

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The Open 2017: Branden Grace shoots a 62 to set a new major record

Branden Grace

2017 Open Championship on the BBC
Venue: Royal Birkdale Dates: 20-23 July
Live: Listen to BBC Radio 5 live commentary and follow text updates – including in-play video clips – on BBC Sport website and mobile app. TV highlights on BBC Two. Click for full times.

South Africa’s Branden Grace has become the first man to score 62 in a major.

Grace holed eight birdies in a bogey-free third round of The Open at Royal Birkdale to beat the previous best of 63, which has been recorded 31 times.

“This is momentus,” said former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie. “The day Grace broke the unbreakable record.”

South Korea’s Hyo-Joo Kim holds the record for the lowest round in any major with 61 at the women’s Evian Championship in 2014.

Grace’s round is not the lowest score to par in a men’s major though, with seven players scoring nine under on par-72 courses.

Analysis

Iain Carter, BBC Sport golf correspondent at Royal Birkdale

People have been getting touch and saying ‘Hang on, it is a par 70 and only eight under par so we have seen lower rounds in relation to par’.

But the fact of the matter is, what is recorded is the total number of shots played, irrespective of what par is.

No one has covered a major course in 62 shots before, it is an extraordinary moment for the game of golf.

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The Open 2017 tee times for third round at Royal Birkdale

Jordan Spieth

2017 Open Championship on the BBC
Venue: Royal Birkdale Dates: 20-23 July
Live: Listen to BBC Radio 5 live commentary and follow text updates – including in-play video clips – on BBC Sport website and mobile app. TV highlights on BBC Two. Click for full times.

Round three tee times – Saturday, 22 July

All times BST. Players are British unless stated; (a) denotes amateurs

09:20 Shaun Norris (SA)

09:30 Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose

09:40 Webb Simpson (US), Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra)

09:50 Younghan Song (Kor), Danny Willett

10:00 Scott Hend (Aus), Marc Leishman (Aus)

10:10 Lee Westwood, Sean O’Hair (US)

10:20 Brandon Stone (SA), David Drysdale

10:30 Andy Sullivan, Jason Day (Aus)

10:40 Aaron Baddeley (Aus), Toby Tree

10:50 Joe Dean, James Hahn (US)

11:05 Thomas Pieters (Bel), Alfie Plant (a)

11:15 Peter Uihlein (US), Kim Kyung-tae (Kor)

11:25 Branden Grace (SA), Jason Dufner (US)

11:35 Andrew Dodt (Aus), Xander Schauffele (US)

11:45 Charl Schwartzel (SA), Daniel Berger (US)

11:55 Jimmy Walker (US), Martin Kaymer (Ger)

12:05 Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Matthew Southgate

12:15 Tony Finau (US), JB Holmes (US)

12:25 Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Chris Wood

12:35 Kevin Na (US), Jon Rahm (Spa)

12:50 Dustin Johnson (US), Paul Casey

13:00 Adam Scott (Aus), Andrew Johnston

13:10 Yi-Keun Chang (Kor), Henrik Stenson (Swe)

13:20 Steve Stricker (US), Matthew Fitzpatrick

13:30 Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Laurie Canter

13:40 Haotong Li (Chn), Thorbjorn Olesen (Den)

13:50 Rickie Fowler (US), Sergio Garcia (Spa)

14:00 Ross Fisher, Sung-hoon Kang (Kor)

14:10 Kevin Kisner (US), Zach Johnson (US)

14:20 Ernie Els (Rsa), Chan Kim (US)

14:35 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Russell Henley (US)

14:45 Alex Noren (Swe), Kent Bulle (US)

14:55 Bubba Watson (US), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa)

15:05 Charley Hoffman (US), Joost Luiten (Ned)

15:15 Jamie Lovemark (US), Richard Bland

15:25 Gary Woodland (US), Rory McIlroy (NI)

15:35 Austin Connelly (Can), Richie Ramsay

15:45 Brooks Koepka (US), Ian Poulter

15:55 Matt Kuchar (US), Jordan Spieth (US)

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The Open 2017: Jordan Spieth leads by two shots

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2017 Open Championship on the BBC
Venue: Royal Birkdale Dates: 20-23 July
Live: Listen to BBC Radio 5 live commentary and follow text updates – including in-play video clips – on BBC Sport website and mobile app. TV highlights on BBC Two. Click for full times.
Second round leaderboard
-6 Spieth (US); -4 Kuchar (US); -3 Poulter (Eng), Koepka (US); -2 Ramsey (Sco); -1 Connelly (Can), McIlroy (NI), Woodland (US), Bland (Eng)
Selected others: E Watson (US), Matsuyama (Jpn) +2 Fisher (Eng), Canter (Eng), Fitzpatrick (Eng), Garcia (Spa) +3 Casey (Eng), Johnston (Eng), Johnson (US), Rahm (Spa), Wood (Eng); +4 Plant (a) (Eng); +5 Rose (Eng), Fleetwood (Eng) Full leaderboard

World number three Jordan Spieth shot a one-under-par 69 in testing conditions to take a two-shot lead after two rounds of The Open at Royal Birkdale.

The American, who finished on six under, had to contend with heavy rain, which caused a brief suspension, while gusting wind affected all the players.

Matt Kuchar (71), overnight leader with Spieth and Brooks Koepka, is second.

England’s Ian Poulter (70) and US Open champion Koepka (72) are three under, with Rory McIlroy (68) on one under.

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Northern Ireland’s McIlroy, who was five over after six holes in round one, enjoyed the better of the weather on Friday morning with his two-under-par round putting him right into contention.

England’s Richard Bland, 44, briefly tied for the lead on five under but was among the later starters who had to endure the worst of the weather and had three bogeys and a double bogey in his 72 to drop alongside McIlroy.

Scotland’s Richie Ramsay is one shot better off after following his opening-round 68 with a 70.

Just eight players were able to post under-par rounds as the wind, which gusted up to 35mph on the Merseyside coast, proved ample defence for the course.

Nine players are left under par for the Championship, 26 fewer than after round one.

Spieth shows how it’s done

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Two-time major winner Spieth began his round with a birdie on the first, before he was pegged back with bogeys on the third and ninth.

Successive birdies on the 11th and 12th holes were followed by a stunning eagle on the 15th as he opened a three-shot lead, despite heavy rain that left standing water on the greens.

However, he three-putted the 16th from 20 feet for a bogey but parred the final two holes to sign for a 69 to add to his first round 65 and tie for the lowest ever 36-hole score in an Open at Birkdale.

“I give myself a B grade today,” said the 23-year-old. “I got pretty frustrated through the turn, hitting it into pot bunker after pot bunker and squeaking out pars somehow.

“I didn’t get everything I could out of yesterday’s round and I got more than what I deserved today.”

Ominously it is the the third time he has opened a major with two rounds in the 60s, he won the Masters and US Open on the other two occasions.

Poulter & McIlroy in contention

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Poulter, who began the day on three under, carded a solid 70 which included one bogey and one birdie.

The bogey came on the 16th and was his first in 26 holes.

“I have nothing to lose,” sad Poulter, who finished runner-up at Birkdale in 2008. “I qualified to get in and I am going to try and go out there and grab it with two hands.

“I’m pumped up and ready to go out there toe-to-toe with anyone this weekend.”

He added: “I’m pulling hard this week on memories of how I remember 2008.”

Four-time major winner McIlroy knocked in three birdies in his first six holes on Friday to push him up the leaderboard, but the 2014 champion was pegged back with bogeys on the 13th and 15th, before a birdie on the 17th saw him under par at halfway.

He said: “To be in after two days and be under par for this championship after the way I started, I’m ecstatic with that.”

McIlroy added that his second round was “right up there,” with his best rounds at The Open.

“I couldn’t ask to be in a better position after yesterday, having been five over through six yesterday and now be in the clubhouse after two rounds under par,” he said.

Best of the rest

Dustin Johnson

Former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie said on BBC Radio 5 live that “anyone within 10 shots has a chance” heading into the final two rounds.

England’s Paul Casey, who turned 40 on Friday, and had been in second place overnight on four under, is one player in that category, although he had seven bogeys in his 77 to finish on three over.

He sits alongside England’s Andrew Johnston (74), world number one Dustin Johnson (72), Irish Open champion Jon Rahm (74) and Australia’s Adam Scott (74).

Johnson, who bogeyed the last, after finding one of Birkdale’s 123 bunkers, conceded: “I wish I could blame it on the wind. I’m just struggling a bit with the irons, not hitting the shots I wanted to.”

Two-time champion Ernie Els (73) of South Africa was three over for the day to drop to one over alongside 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who shot the lowest round of the day with a four-under 66.

England’s Ross Fisher’s 72 saw him drop to two over, alongside Masters champion Sergio Garcia (69) and American Rickie Fowler (71).

Defending champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden is also two over after his 73, a day after his rental house was burgled while he played his first round.

Plant wins low amateur prize

Londoner Alfie Plant is guaranteed the silver medal, awarded to the leading amateur, because he is the only one to make the cut. The 25-year-old eagled the par-five 15th on his way to a 73 to add to his first round 71.

Plant has a 150-strong ‘fan club’ of family and friends wearing #TeamAlfie T-shirts following him round the course.

He said: “It’s been brilliant. I hope the weather changes because I’m sure they’ll be a lot louder.”

When it was pointed out previous silver medal winners include Tiger Woods and McIlroy, Plant added: “That’s not bad is it? Hopefully I’ll follow in their footsteps.”

Who missed the cut and who sneaked in?

Seventy-seven of the 156 players who started the Open have made the halfway cut – which is the top 70 players, plus ties and came at five over par.

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A host of big names finished on that mark to make the weekend, with Olympic champion Justin Rose (74), former Masters champion Danny Willett (74) and fellow Englishmen Lee Westwood (74) and Tommy Fleetwood – who birdied the 15th and finished with three pars for a one-under 69.

Australia’s Jason Day also sneaks in after the world number six shot a 76 along with two more Englishmen, Andy Sullivan and Toby Tree and Scotland’s David Drysdale.

Former Open champion Phil Micklelson was one of the biggest casualties, missing the cut at The Open for just the fifth time in 24 starts, after a 77 left him on 10 over.

“The five-time major winner quipped: “Unfortunately it’s the first cut I’ve missed this year and I missed it with flair.”

Scotland’s Martin Laird had five bogeys and two double bogeys in his 79 to fall to seven over, while 1999 champion Paul Lawrie (79) finished nine over.

Padraig Harrington, who won the Open the last time it was played at Birkdale missed the cut by one shot, while 2011 champion Darren Clarke also missed out.

Wales Stuart Manley who had been two under after the first round on his Open debut, had seven bogeys and three double bogeys to card an 11-over 81.

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